Saturday, May 13, 2017

Getting to Know Astros/Hooks OF Drew Ferguson

I caught up with Hooks OF Drew Ferguson recently in Corpus Christi, but I've had my eye on him for quite some time. Part of it is his funny and very sarcastic sense of humor on evidence in his @_drewferguson twitter account. But mostly it's been his consistency since he was drafted in the 19th round in 2015 out of Belmont University in Nashville that intrigued me. In 196 career minor league games, Ferguson has hit .305/.387/.488 with 53 doubles, four triples, 24 home runs and 48 stolen bases. He is currently in the top 10 in the Astros system in runs, hits, doubles and stolen bases for the season.

Drew Ferguson - April 2017
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Not to take away from his accomplishments on the field, Ferguson also offers some skills outside of the game itself that help set him apart. "I'm kind of the clubhouse clown. I try to keep things a little light. The way the ebbs and flows of the season, it's nice to have somebody who's usually pretty chipper, and I consider myself well-suited for that role. I kind of have a dry sense of humor, but most of the guys seem to like it pretty good. So I'll keep that up as long as my attitude and my mood dictates that," said Ferguson. Whether it's allowing himself to be the victim of a deadlift by the much larger Jon Singleton or advising a struggling teammate during BP to "swing harder," Ferguson's sense of humor is readily on display.

But back to the baseball portion of the interview. Despite starting the new season with the same consistency that has dominated his pro career so far, Ferguson isn't necessarily satisfied. "I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I would say that I haven't met my own expectations. I think that's part of it. I expect a lot out of myself and I prepare accordingly. This year, given that it's early, I think things are going well enough."

Ferguson continued, "I know it helped me a lot this off season. I played in Puerto Rico for winter ball, just an extra 200 at-bats, or whatever it was, is helpful coming in to the season. You kind of feel like you're in midseason form a little earlier or that's the hope. I still have some things that I'm working on, working with our hitting coach Joel Chimelis a lot. He's been really, really helpful to me. It's definitely a collaborative effort from the organization. They're going to point things out to us that we can improve on and that's the goal, just to focus on that on a daily basis and hopefully, you're trending in the right direction.

"I know that I'm not old, but also I'm not 18 years old, a high school player. The more at-bats, the better. I'm trying to improve at a fast rate so that I can get to the big leagues before it's too late. So that was kind of my mind-set (for playing winter ball). I'd be happy to play again as long as my body was feeling up for it. I'm kind of surprised that more guys don't play because it's an advantage to just play the game more."

Asked to give a scouting report on himself, Ferguson told me, "If I had to typify myself, I'd say that I do everything well, but nothing extraordinarily well. I kind of pride myself in being a well-rounded player … base running, defense, at the plate. I try to help the team win in a bunch of different areas. So to improve, of course I don't have crazy tools necessarily in any category, but I guess just maximizing my upside with what I'm given. I'm a very cerebral player. I think about the game a lot. I think about development a lot. I think that puts me a leg up on a lot of players. I know what it takes to be good. It's more just a matter of being able to do it consistently. My focus is to continue to learn about the game, continue to learn about my own development and how I'm going to improve in every category, every facet of the game."

Although Ferguson has been getting regular playing time so far this season, that hasn't always necessarily been the case so the fact that he's been very successful coming off the bench lends to his versatility. "Yeah, I'd say that I'm comfortable in a couple of different roles, whether that be as a DH (I don't think that I hit much differently when I DH vs. when I play). I feel comfortable in pinch-hitting situations. That comes down to preparation. Like I said I'm a very cerebral player. I like to have a really good idea how a pitcher might attack me. I'll guess at the plate based on tendencies or what I might expect in the situation. Try to pick up anything that's going to give me the upper hand because, like I said, I'm not the most talented player but I know how to take information and hopefully use that to my advantage. That's worked so far and I intend to continue that going forward."

When asked which Hooks teammate he'd least like to face in the batter's box, Ferguson said, "I think Dean Deetz is up there. He's got awesome stuff. I would go out on a limb and say that his slider is one of the best pitches in my career that I've been able to see first hand. Nobody seems to touch it. He's kind of effectively wild, not somebody that you can really look in a particular spot because he's going to kind of shotgun spray with very, very good stuff. And all his pitches do very, very well as long as he's throwing strikes, not necessarily to a specific location, but if he's just in the zone enough, he's really tough."

As to who really stands out on the Hooks team, Ferguson said, "Deetz is up there. Rogelio Armenteros has really impressed me, his feel for all of his pitches, able to throw any pitch in any count. I think Garrett Stubbs is a stud. The thing about him that impresses me is he's got one of the best barrel-to-ball abilities that I've seen in pro ball, just consistently hitting the ball on the barrel. I guess that's just a combination of good discipline and hand-to-eye coordination that he's able to use to his advantage pretty regularly."

Since Ferguson considers himself the class clown, I wanted to know who makes him laugh. "Everybody makes me laugh. I have running inside jokes with a bunch of the guys. I would say I banter the most with (Jacob) Dorris, Andrew Thome, Stubbs is up there and, of course, can't forget my college teammate Jamie Ritchie. We have jokes dating six years old that we're still wearing out. I think overall our group gets along pretty well. We have a pretty close bond for most of the guys on the team. Like I said, I try and keep it light-hearted and I think most of the guys are on that same page. It's a pretty good clubhouse atmosphere, I'd say."

My last question for Ferguson had to do with his dislike for baseball player clichés ...

Ferguson responded, "I kind of like to pick on the baseball stereotype because it's easy to do and I'm around it so much. I think in some cases baseball players get a bad rap, people assuming that they're going to be egotistical and kind of conceited, arrogant guys. That's not always the case, but there's enough of it, that it's worth making fun of it in my mind. That's definitely one of my most consistent punch lines, just taking the baseball stereotype to the extreme."

I'll just leave things right there because I dare not risk ending this post with any baseball blogger clichés. Thanks for your time Drew.

Other Recent Interviews:
RHP Akeem Bostick
LHP Mike Freeman
3B J.D. Davis

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